As feature sizes in semiconductors shrink, CMOS technology approaches the limits of Moore's law when quantum effects become important. Instead of evolutionary changes in architecture, we can aim for disruptive change and create devices that directly tap the computational power of quantum systems. Although quantum mechanics is a century old, very few devices or machines exist that work on quantum mechanical principles, and the quantum computer is still a vision for the future. In this talk - aimed at people with no knowledge of quantum mechanics - I will present two working quantum devices and our efforts in validating and improving them. The first is a quantum random number generator, which is supposed to produce perfect random numbers. I will explain the importance of perfect randomness in simulations and commercial applications, present our evidence for non-randomness in such devices, and our solution (implemented at the device driver level) to produce provably true quantum random numbers As a second example I will present so-called "optical lattice emulators", special-purpose analog quantum computers using atomic physics at nano-Kelvin temperatures to directly simulate quantum mechanical models that are intractable on classical computers. I will present the technology used in these devices and our efforts to validate against numerical simulations for models that are still tractable on classical computers. This successful validation has been chosen by Science magazine as one of the scientific breakthroughs of the year 2010.
The research presented in this talk has been funded by the Swiss National Competence Center in Research on "Quantum Science and Technology" and by a grant from the US Army Research Office through the DARPA OLE program.